Could your dissertation change the world?

Monday 27-03-2017 - 16:55

How one student took her sustainability project idea from a pondering in a lecture to a full-scale, functioning iniative! Kim Croasdale tells us about Dissertations for Good.

Dissertations for Good is like a dating website for academic work. It partners students with organisations to work together to research important issues – particularly ones that may not otherwise garner the attention they deserve.

The idea first came to me when I was at university. One of my modules was on Conservation Biology, and we were learning about the problems that organisations have when they want to do good work but don’t have the time or resources to maximise their potential impact.

Sadly, in our world, it is often organisations concerned with ‘doing good’ that have the poorest access to resources. But every year, millions of undergraduates and postgraduates complete a dissertation, and many students are committed to making a difference alongside furthering their personal and professional development. So connecting students with ‘real world’ opportunities to do so made perfect sense.

It seemed to be a win-win situation, and I started thinking that someone must have already had the idea. Sure enough, there were several local schemes that connected students up with organisations – but nothing on a national scale. I refined the idea over a few years and (contrary to popular advice) spoke to everyone that I could about it. After working on the idea with Change Agents UK, I got chatting to Jamie Agombar, Head of Sustainability at NUS, and found that they had been concocting similar ideas.

In 2013, I started working for the NUS as a Sustainability Project Officer, with setting up Dissertations for Good as part of my role. As the NUS represents over seven million students, it seemed a natural fit for the idea. In 2014, we launched the pilot of the project and helped students and organisations complete 12 projects. In 2015, the website launched and, to date, we have almost 800 students and 50 organisations registered on the website. So far in the 2016/17 academic year, we have set up eight projects. 

In the near future, we’re hoping to make the matchmaking process smoother and more accessible to boost numbers. And in the longer-term, we’re looking at extending the project into PhDs and placements during and before university.  

Visit the Dissertations for Good website, and grab a piece of the action!



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